Monday, April 21, 2008

Between the Pen and the Sale, are the Words… Take my Word for it!

Until very recently, the typical corporate Home page was merely the cyber version of the visiting card and at best, an hastily conceived company brochure floating around in cyberspace, waiting to be ‘found’ by surfers ‘passing by.’ A simple query on would show the dismal ranking of such sites that merely took the bricks and mortar concept of ‘location, location, location…’ to the web.

However, on the internet, it’s all about ‘information, information, information.’ Nobody is ‘passing by.’ People go to the internet in search of information using keywords on search engines (SE) like Google. ‘Information’ may or may not be found in the ‘content’ the site provides – very rarely do searchers look for photographs and graphics. Think… when you go online, what do you do most? Does it come as a surprise that while you complain that reading on a computer screen is not easy on your eyes, you do spend most of your time reading text? And when ‘reading’ a magazine offline, you do prefer to look at the pictures first, don’t you? Like you, potential customers do take a second look at glossy corporate brochures and the pictures in them, but research shows that on the internet, most people look for the ‘text’ part of ‘content.’ And I am not even talking about an irritant called flash animation, which happens to be the favourite of many web designers!

But there’s more… the text people are searching for must not only be informational in nature – people are not interested in pages of self-praise. The thing uppermost in the surfer’s mind is, WIIFM (what’s in it for me) i.e., ‘benefits, benefits, benefits,’ not merely, ‘features, features, features.’

These visitors who arrive on the landing pages of sites as a result of typing in specific keywords, are prospects, a percentage of which may turn into leads when they click on the 'More Info' button.

But don’t take my word for it – not just yet. Let’s put it to the test. Type in your favourite keyword into Google and look up the results page – your site may not be listed at No.1… not on the first page or even through to page 10. But we take comfort from the fact that none of our known competitors figures on these pages as well. But wait… we find another type of competitor – cyber competitors and in our line of business! And, we’ve just discovered that our Home page is another marketplace with tremendous potential.

Here’s where keyword research comes to the fore in SE optimization (SEO) and SEO-copywriting. Word Tracker is my favourite keyword research tool, which throws up hundreds of keywords from a few seed words. These keywords, if sprinkled in the text of web pages, make it easier for 'spiders' to find them. As the song goes, ‘it’s only words…’ – or to be more specific, ‘keywords,’ that are vital to humans as well as the SEs. The battle of words is fought on Home turf (pun not intended) and the winner takes it all.